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Shoe-throwing Iraqi journalist to appeal 3-year jail term


MOSCOW, March 12 (RIA Novosti) - Lawyers for the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at then-U.S. President George Bush in December said on Thursday they intend to appeal the three-year prison sentence of their client.

Muntazer al-Zaidi, 30, an Iraqi correspondent for the Cairo-based al-Baghdadiya TV channel, threw his shoes at Bush during a news conference in Baghdad in mid-December and shouted in Arabic: "This is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, dog." Bush managed to duck out of the way as each shoe flew past.

Earlier in the day the Central Criminal Court of Iraq sentenced Muntazer al-Zaidi to three years in prison, describing his actions as an assault on a leader of a foreign country during an official visit.

His lawyer said in an interview with the Qatar-based news channel Al-Jazeera that the verdict was "very harsh."

"The verdict is unjust. First, President Bush did not press charges; second, the journalist's action was not an assault, but only an insult," he said.

The journalist's actions have made him a hero in many Arab countries, including Iraq, where a 3.5-meter (11' 6") sculpture of a shoe was unveiled at an orphanage in the north of the country. However, the tribute to al-Zaidi was taken down after only a day following an order from the Iraqi government.

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